Monday, July 26, 2021
The right to self-determination is renowned for its lack of clear interpretation. Broadly speaking, one can differentiate between a 'classic' and a 'romantic' tradition. In modern international law, the balance between these two opposing traditions is sought in an attempt to contain or 'domesticate' the romantic version by limiting it to 'abnormal' situations, that is cases of 'alien subjugation, domination and exploitation'.
This book situates Russia's engagement with the right to self-determination in this debate. It shows that Russia follows a distinct approach to self-determination that diverges significantly from the consensus view in international state practice and scholarship, partly due to a lasting legacy of the former Soviet doctrine of international law. Against the background of the Soviet Union's role in the evolution of the right to self-determination, the bulk of the study analyses Russia's relevant state practice in the post-Soviet space through the prisms of sovereignty, secession, and annexation. Drawing on analysis of all seven major secessionist conflicts in the former Soviet space and a detailed study of Russian sources and scholarship, it traces how Russian engagement with self-determination has changed over the past three decades. Ultimately, the book argues that Russia's approach to the right of peoples to self-determination should not only be understood in terms of power politics disguised as legal rhetoric but in terms of a continuously assumed regional hegemony and exceptionalism, based on balance-of-power considerations.
Sekalala et al.: Decolonising human rights: how intellectual property laws result in unequal access to the COVID-19 vaccine
The recent rapid development of COVID-19 vaccines offers hope in addressing the worst pandemic in a hundred years. However, many countries in the Global South face great difficulties in accessing vaccines, partly because of restrictive intellectual property law. These laws exacerbate both global and domestic inequalities and prevent countries from fully realising the right to health for all their people. Commodification of essential medicines, such as vaccines, pushes poorer countries into extreme debt and reproduces national inequalities that discriminate against marginalised groups. This article explains how a decolonial framing of human rights and public health could contribute to addressing this systemic injustice. We envisage a human rights and global health law framework based on solidarity and international cooperation that focuses funding on long-term goals and frees access to medicines from the restrictions of intellectual property law. This would increase domestic vaccine production, acquisition and distribution capabilities in the Global South.